tv [untitled] CSPAN June 10, 2009 8:00am-8:30am EDT
it is the clear position that i put to the house. this statement that other members didn't have. >> thank you, mr. speaker. an announcement today which is important, it may turn out to be historic. but could i ask him to consider adding one item to the list. an item i was elected on in our manifesto in 1992, an item i introduced a bill on 80 years ago which most people in the house have signed up to, the proposition of a fixed term parliament. and can i ask him to signal his commitment by announcing the date of the next general elections? could i suggest that may 2010 would be an excellent date?
>> we are asking for new responsibilities in this review. including fixed term parliament. if we were to discuss the written constitution that would be part of the discussion that took place. but there are no specific announcements today. the more important thing, both are cleaning up the politics of this country and making reforms that have been proposed for years. >> there is much that the prime minister has said that i welcome but his suggestions for a statutory code of conduct and forcible through the courts has enormous implications for all of us, through our relationship and accountability to our constituents and the role of the house as the supreme court of
parliament. and this particular section should not be rushed through the house. >> the distinguished chairman of the committee that deals with senators, there are many other legislators in the world that have such conduct. once in a generation there is a crisis, it happened in canada, america, germany, people should have been taken action to reassure the public that everything possible has been done. a code of conduct is necessary means by which they know the standard of behavior is going to be regulated. there could be many ways that that is set down the we cannot -- there can be discussions on the manner in which it is done. at the same time, we have to modify the way we deal with
suspension and exclusion. there are 3 people excluded from this house. that is something, given all the scandals that have happened, it is the case they you can be imprisoned for a year and not be suspended or expelled from the house of commons. we have to look at our nineteenth century procedures and in line with what the common sense of the public is. the code of conduct on the statute, most of the country will want to see. >> it is appropriate for the prime minister to remind the house that during the month of june, we will review 4 years, and we will have the committee
recommendations. is also appropriate that the house of commons authority to work with him and the government on procedural reforms. it is not appropriate by the end of this present session, we will have a parliament -- we will have a new statutory code of conduct, so we can all go back to our constituents and tell them we have understood you. >> i am grateful to you for his work on the commission. he has done a good job and should be applauded for the time he has given up to discharge his responsibilities. there is no way that members of the public will see this house has in any way having dealt with the problems unless we can pass that legislation as quickly as possible and unless the review of the last 4 years is done in such a way that an independent auditor can confirm the regularity of people's expenses.
these humility to recognize that this is going to be done as a matter of urgency and the audit can be done, the publication of the expenses ordered by the courts, the sooner the better. >> it is not the government's job to decide how the house of commons should use its time in examining government legislation. at the center of the house of decision making, the timetable. >> that is exactly what the chairman of the public administration group has got to convene and want to look at. there is the necessity for the government to get legislation through the house of commons but there is non-government tight to be discussed in more detail, the
group of people who have experienced difficult views on this and make recommendations to see what can be done. that is one way to make progress. >> the prime minister has spoken since his selection as prime minister of a new settlement with the british people. i welcome his commitment to a written constitution. he will accept that this process will take a long period of time. there is no excuse for not starting that process. does he agree with me that it is essential that as we write this new constitution we should not just have lawmakers, parliamentarians, the good and a great, but members of the public should be directly involved in writing what will be the most important document in our constitution? >> we have a consultation on a bill of rights and responsibilities. any written constitution would have to involve the consultation of the people. the constitution is, at the
moment, not on written in the sense that there are no written documents and no pieces of legislation. scotland and wales creates a written constitution for these parts of the united kingdom, there's the european union legislation, great conditions in which we operate as members of the european union, their speech given rights act, the freedom of information act and other rights and qualities that will come through the house of commons. is not the shortage of legislation that defines our rights and responsibilities, it is the fact that we have not brought that together in a way, for the people of this country -- we have not down statements the way others do for other countries. that is what the debate should be about. the circumstances about the
written constitution takes place, completely different from where we were 20 years ago. it was not the relationship with your for freedom of information or the human rights act, these things have changed fundamentally over the last 20 years. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister has said many things which are acceptable. many people across the chamber. he referred in passing to the imbalance between the executive and parliament. that is detrimental to this parliament. can i suggest one thing to him? the daily abuse of guillotines and is an absolute farce that those come back on reports, 80 to 100 amendments are passed through without discussion. is not right. it has to stop. >> we have to get the balance trade between a manifesto commitment made by a party that is in government and that legislation as necessary to get
it through. if we are truly accountable to the people, it is something we have a responsibility for. there must be the maximum that people should implement the manifesto. there is a commitment to implement the manifesto. at the same time, there's the maximum possible consultation depending on the time available in the house of commons. >> why do we allow tax exiles to bankroll political parties? there's a lot of sense about the constitutional renewal bill. on monday they will be discussing the political parties and election. will he take the opportunity to
close the loophole? >> there are questions to be answered by members of this ouse straightforward fashion has been the conventions that enabled change to be made without the rigidities associated with a written constitution. let me ask the prime minister whether he will agree it would be premature for his government to commit itself to a written constitution until a proper
deliberation has been made, whether it is desirable -- >> the problem of this house of commons and the working of our political system has been reviewed in the house of commons. >> it is absolutely clear that the gentleman's club operating with its own rules and powers of discipline has proved unsatisfactory and inadequate to meet the needs of the parliament and there are other areas in our constitution whereby our inability to be straight about what we are trying to do and put that down in legislation, we sailed a public. there is a debate to be had about the written constitution and that is a major decision for our country and he is clearly against it. given that so much of the constitution is written for different parts of the united kingdom and different areas of
policy and the relationship between individuals and the state, it is worth considering that we put this into a written constitution. >> would the prime minister agree with me that the authority and power of parliament has been diminishing for decades under successive governments, and we have reached a situation, far from the government being accountable to the house of commons, the house of commons is accountable to the government. the program is determined outside of the registered shock and if we are going to look at the review of the constitution may be we should be even more sweeping, we should consider, i didn't believe this at one time, even consider a separation of powers between parliament and
the executive. >> he is proposing the american constitution for britain and he knows the deadlock that often happens in the american constitution because congress, the senate and the president cannot agree on what needs to be done. and people look back to what happened over the last few months, we were able to proceed through and finance our banks so we could rescue our banks. it took weeks and months for the americans to get that through as a result of the issues that arise from the separation of powers. on the future of parliament in dealing with legislation, i remember the debate that started in the 1960s, how they could play a big role on the management of this house, and there are 2 that have not had
their pay. one is the reports that we are talking about, the members have not seen as important, for them to put forward proposals to the house following the reports of legislation. we need to have a discussion that was held by the member who has great expertise to see what is open to these discussions. we must recognize the background to reform the select committee and make it more relevant. >> i welcome the prime minister's commitment. wouldn't it make sense to have more powers, whenever a new secretary of state is appointed, he or she must be subject to confirmation by the appropriate departmental committee.
wouldn't that be particularly appropriate from the appointing sector from the house of lords, even when he is considering the major constitutional step of appointing a new first secretary of state. >> he makes a point about confirmation hearings. as a result of the announcements 2 years ago, there are 62 positions subject to subcommittee hearings. as far as ministers, ministers are responsible for this house. if people wish to bring forward motions on the suitability or unsuitability, they can do so. these things can be discussed by my hon. friend. >> i feel the british public would like to see a referendum on whether or not we remain in
the european union. no one under the age of 50 has voted on the question of europe. we should have a referendum. >> mr. speaker, this issue was not put to the people by the people who put us in the european union. the conclusion was that people wanted to be part of the union. i don't think that opinion has fundamentally changed. >> many in this house on both sides agree there is time for radical change to where this place does its business. one of the problems in discussions i have had is the executive has become part of the problem, not part of the solution. the prime minister has come
forward with a statement in which the executive tells the rest of us what we shall now reform. isn't the reality that the rest of us should be telling the executive what they should or shouldn't do? >> first of all, i am talking about hours, the executive is surrendering. i put forward proposals with a whole range of areas where the executive should surrender some of this power to parliament but if he is going to perpetrate the myth at the problems of the last few weeks are not the problems of parliament that people see as caused by mistakes made by members of parliament and this house, he is not going to get an echo in the country. this house is going to face of to the fact it let the country down. we have to make the changes that are necessary. many m ps who have made no mistakes of being penalized
because of mistakes made by others. we have a collective duty to clean up this house in the interest of democracy. everybody who saw last week, parties that are not represented in this house or what our duty is. the problem is not parliament and parliament does not have to deal with its problems. that is a mistake, i hope reflection, someone who usually brings to this, is wisdom on these matters. >> warmly applauded. does my hon. friend accept that this house having the power, is an essential part of any democratic reform, and does he accept that this house should have a right to elected its own business committee to share control of the agenda with the
government, the right to elected shares and members of select committees by secret ballot and the right to set up, where appropriate, its own parliamentary commissions of inquiry? >> my friend who i talked to about these matters has taken a huge interest in this and has pursued the case over many years. i have read works that he has done 20 years ago, 10 years ago, he is afraid to raise these questions. the election of subcommittees, the business management of the house, the role of public petitions, these are all issues the public has a right to know that the parliament is investigating because these affect accountability to the general public. >> does the prime minister recall that he was recently norman bates? there are people who fought and
died in the last war because they wanted to maintain a free democratic system in this country based upon a direct vote between their member of parliament, their government and their constituents? they died for that reason? does he also accept they did not die for judicial supremacy against parliamentary supremacy which they fought for, whether those decisions were made in court or european courts. >> i had the honor of paying tribute to those who died in the aftermath as we moved from france to the fall of berlin, and the freedom of your. goes to food and women who died deserves the gratitude of everybody in this house and they will never for be -- be forgotten. i want to represent the british
people and the prince of wales. and the results of what those people had done, the sacrifices they made is the europe today which was once divided is free of conflict, and people who once fought that war is what happened between their countries, now know that there is peace and unity in europe. i also agree that people fought for freedom, which means we have a british constitution that we can be proud of. >> let me put it to my friends that if we wish to enhance the standing of parliament in the eyes of our constituents, there is one simple measures that we could take immediately which requires no legislation, that is to resume sittings in september which is something we voted for several years ago and -- how can it be right in a democracy for parliament to give the executives and 80 day holiday from scrutiny and how can we
expect to be taken seriously in the twenty-first century when we are awarding ourselves those recesses? >> the answer is possible in september but it is the house that brought it in the september session, not the government. >> on 2 occasions, i have asked the leader of the house on 9 occasions, what he can do about ending this can lead to embarrassment of huge chunks of government legislation and amendments going through this house without adequate scrutiny. the government must get its business through, but will be accepted if the outcome of this process is not ending that scandal so that this house can make sure everything it needs to debate is reached, it would have been a failure and we will not be able to take seriously what i hope is a serious commitment to
move from reform conservative to a reform radical. >> the house has developed pre legislative scrutiny in a way that allows some of the problems in the past to be dealt with but the specific issue of amendments during the course of the bill is something we can look at during this review. >> i am sure the public will welcome measures to speed up the scandal expenses. isn't there something missing from his statement? that is the question of the fact that despite us trying to get the executive more accountable to parliament, 75% are still made in europe where we have no real democratic involvement. isn't it time that we seriously discuss our position in the european union and look at why we could not still have a referendum on the european
constitution? >> by the red lines that we drew from the existing treaty, we have done everything to protect british citizens. we want this country to make its own decisions. but there are three million jobs dependent on the european union, 700,000 trading with the european union. and the ideas that we should not have a purposeful relationship in the interests of our economy and environment and security in this time of the twenty-first century seems to me -- >> the leader of the opposition asked a pertinent question of the prime minister about the dividend, the size of our constituencies. the prime minister failed to address that. isn't that something we can do immediately and reduce the members of parliament in this
place? >> there are probably three million people who counted on the electoral register. our constituencies do not reflect the total number of people who are available or eligible to vote. the first thing we should do is get the register in a position where everyone is on that register, you might want to discuss the number of seats in this house which is far less than the number of seats in the house of lords and we might start by reducing the size of the house of lords. >> i welcome the wide-ranging statement, let me just say a word or 2 on the issue of electoral systems. this is addressing unfinished business from the 1997 manifesto. there are different options, the government voted choice and ensuring that votes result in the kind of balance of parliament that reflects the
balances of the party. ultimately those choices are not choices for politicians, whether they be governments for opposition's, they should be that choices made by the british people themselves and they should have the right to make those choices. >> that was stated in our manifesto. >> the prime minister referred to the message sent by the electorate during the recent election. more in anchorage and in sarraute on some occasions and the other way around. the second message was the people wanted to pass judgment on members of this house and they wanted to do it now and in the election. the third message was that we should have the promised referendum on the european constitution. the prime minister ruled out the first two. why, given his statement today
about involving people, can he not grant the first? >> any them be coming from these elections knows that this was for many people in the country of verdict that was being given not just on the government but on the way we conduct ourselves over our expenses and if we ignore that and did not take the action that is essential, there is no action on expenses. i am proposing action on expenses now. i am proposing the clean up the system. if i may say, it was the government that proposed the parliamentary standard's authority and the code of conduct. i'm glad the opposition parties -- i can agree on that and we should get it through. but there's an unwillingness on the part of the conservatives to read knit the seriousness of the expenses. i hope they can face up to.
>> i welcome the prime minister, but would he support what is available to be more effective in challenging it. does he agree that you will be able to do anything? >> my hon. friend is chairman of the committee and does a great job and it is hardly surprising she is asking for greater resources. these are decisions of the house, not the government. >> is the prime minister aware that what really matters to our constituents at the moment and what feels there ain't her over parliamentary allowances is the state of the economy, they fear for their jobs and livelihoods. they see attempts to divert the agenda to consideration of constitutional reform,